First off, we forgot to mention how amazing breakfast was at Couette & Cafe Le 253. The hosts created some amazing breakfast, that ranged from smoked salmon eggs on English muffins to pancakes covered in maple syrups and fruits. Everything was presented and decorated as if we were staying at a 5-star resort. Additionally, the hosts were wonderful taking care of me, offering unlimited supply of tea and water bottles to make sure I was comfortable all day. They respected our privacy and even offered Jason alcohol on a countless number of occasions. If I was feeling better, I’m sure we would have spent more time with them!
In the morning, once we were full and ready to go, our host brought out our car (which was parked in a private garage) and we made our way to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré! The drive was calm, so I was able to rest, but also took the time to take some pictures of the lake and Montmorency Falls (access closed due to weather conditions). We definitely recommend taking the time to visit the falls during any other season!
Upon arriving, the first thing we noticed is how small the town was, but how massive the Cathedral was, almost looming over the city.
Although I had been myself as a child, it was still as picturesque and breathtaking as I remember it to be, even in the gloomy cloudy winter skies. We made it in time for French mass (11:30-12:30pm) and ended up doing our own self-guided tour of the Cathedral, using the pamphlet available at the entrance (bilingual option included). Inside, the Cathedral is as enormous as you would imagine it to be.
Looking at the architecture, statues, and walking around to the smaller chapels and walkways around the Cathedral, there is a lot to experience here.
We were lucky that it was not extremely crowded and were able to take in the beauty of the artistic works done within the Cathedral.
Once we were done, we decided to stop by a brewery called Microbrasserie des beaux près were we enjoyed 6 taster sized beers with amazing nachos! We even took the time to enjoy a couple of board games on our phone (although they actually have shelves of books and games available too!). Unfortunately, it began to downpour, but we were excited to check out a restaurant that was supposed to be across the street, called Restaurant Les Artistes. With much regret, we walked into a vapour store and the new owner told us that the restaurant closed down October 2016. Keep that in mind if you plan to go!
So, we went for the second BEST option and chose the old Quebec staple – ST-HUBERT – a chain of chicken restaurants affiliated with “Swiss Chalet”, but specific to the province of Quebec!!! Apart from missing the falls, it was an amazing start to an incredible day!
Since I was still feeling tired, Jason took charge of driving all day and took us on our next adventure, which I was most excited about – Hôtel de Glace! Note: it is situated behind Valcartier Hotel which means you cannot see it from the road. Once we figured out where to park, we went through the Hotel Lobby and were able to purchase our tickets (which can also be purchased ahead of time online!). We chose to do the guided tour + an iced drink which came out to approximately $25/person. It was SO WORTH IT!
We luckily made it in time for the last guided tour of the evening, in English, at 5pm. We were joined by a few American couples and began our journey through the ice hotel. The hotel is always kept at -5C and each year, a new project is set by the family who owns Valcartier and comprised of thick ice and milk and LED fluorescent lights.
Each year, there is a unique design that captures the architects’ vision. This year, it was a northern theme, comprised of the Canadian north, including animals like the white owl, whales, and hot chocolate!
As we ventured from room to room (you can visit the ice rooms before the guests turn in at 8pm), we saw how the architects took time to carefully design each room. It was a fantastic experience that no one should miss!
We finished off our tour and ended up in an ice bar where we enjoyed a drink called “L’érablière“, made of maple syrup and Amaretto in an ice glass. Although I really wanted to take the glass home, it started melting and we had to throw it out.
Once we were done our adventure, we went home and finished our journey around 10pm.
Hi! Bonjour! I’m Sophia, a traveler since birth, a lover of nature and culture and a linguist! I want to share with you all the wonderful things you can do and experience if you just set your mind to it and travel!